Germany re-opens borders to travelers from Britain, Africa

Novikov Aleksey /

Germany is removing Britain from its list of “virus variant” countries as of January 4, 2022, thus re-opening its borders to British travelers 

The government designated Britain a “virus variant” country as of December 20, 2021 due to the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, throwing Christmas and New Year travel plans for many into disarray.  

The “virus variant” list is similar to a red list designation and effectively bans travel from the affected country. It means entry is restricted to German citizens and residents, who have to provide a negative PCR test before departure to Germany and then undergo a two-week quarantine period upon arrival, even if fully vaccinated.  

However, with Omicron becoming dominant across Europe, the country’s Robert Koch Institute announced the downgrade of Britain to a “high risk” country on December 30, 2021. It is also downgrading all other countries – eight countries in Africa – from its “virus variant” list to “high risk”. All changes take effect on January 4, 2022. The RKI cautioned that changes could be made at short notice.  

Germany has reported 16,748 cases of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 since the end of November. It reported almost 42,000 COVID-19 cases on December 29, 2021, though the RKI has cautioned that data is patchy over the Christmas and New Year holiday period. By contrast, both France and Britain reported record cases of over 200,000 for the same day. 

Travelers from “high risk” countries can enter Germany freely as long as they can provide proof of full vaccination or recovery from COVID-19. Unvaccinated visitors must quarantine for 10 days after arrival, but can test to release after five days. All those arriving from “high risk” countries must also fill out a passenger locator form.  

The emergence of the Omicron variant and the travel restrictions that were swiftly imposed by many countries has knocked recovery at airlines. Several, including Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA), Ryanair have cut flights, while a wave of Omicron infections across staff has caused disruption at US carriers.  


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